Bookbinding: Japanese books and boxes

Course Dates: 23/11/23 - 14/12/23
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: Keeley Street
Explore the elegant sewing patterns found in Japanese binding. Learn how to make books, make a fold-out case, sew traditional and contemporary designs, and experiment with creating your own. This course is suitable for beginners.
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Full fee £269.00 Senior fee £215.00 Concession £175.00

Course Code: VD416

Thu, day, 23 Nov - 14 Dec '23

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

Japanese binding is visually interesting and versatile. It is particularly useful for binding single sheets as the book is constructed using a stab stitch, where the cover and pages are pierced through from front to back and all sewn at the same time. Traditionally the bindings are based on four basic sewing patterns but there are many examples of contemporary stab stitch books which experiment with these patterns to create a wealth of exciting new designs. The traditional Japanese folding case (Chitsu) is an elegant and adaptable structure used to house the books which is constructed from board and paper or cloth and finished with toggles.

What will we cover?

On day one will learn how to fold paper, make paper strings to form the inner binding, make decorative corners and sew traditional patterns. On day two you can choose to make further traditional-style books and/or experiment with non-traditional patterns to design your own sewing style. In weeks three and four, we will create make a Shiho Chitsu, four-sided folding case to keep all your bindings in. We will be using a mixture of papers from Japan, India and Nepal. If you would prefer to work in Japanese paper only, you are welcome bring your own and your tutor will inform you of suppliers on the first day.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Sew multiple books in a variety of sewing styles
- Experiment with sewing patterns using samplers
- Construct and cover a four-sided folding case
- Use basic hand tools safely.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for beginners. Some level of manual dexterity and attention to detail will be required but this will be taught through step-by step instructions and demonstrations.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions to support demonstrations, hand-outs and for health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion. You should be able to use numbers and be able to do simple measurements and calculations.
Please look at the rest of the course outline carefully to decide if you may benefit from support in your English and maths skills to help you to take part fully in this class.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught by demonstration, individual and group tuition. The course is structured to manage the work within the class but preparation or practice work may be carried out between classes if desired. Study materials will be available on Google classroom and you will be sent a link to join this classroom before your course starts.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

All materials are included in the cost of the course and tools are provided. We will use a range of different papers for the projects, including Japanese paper for one of the books. Should you wish to use Japanese paper for all the book projects you will need to provide your own and bring these to the first session. If you would like to use decorative Japanese paper for the case lining, your tutor will advise you about where to purchase this during the first session. Please bring a sharp pencil, notebook and pen to each class as you might wish to make your own notes to supplement the course handouts handouts which will be available on Google Classroom.
Need art supplies? Our partner London Graphic Centre has everything you need from pencils to printing services, at 15% off.
To get an LGC discount card, students will need to show proof/ confirmation of enrolment of them being a student at City Lit. You can apply for our card in-store or by simply emailing with a scan or photo of relevant confirmation. The student discount does not apply to products that are already discounted or on offer. More information can be found here-

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

- VD439 Sewn boards and drum leaf bindings for book arts
- VD435 Bookbinding for beginners: simple leather binding
- VD409 Visible stitches, spectacular spines: experiments in exposed sewing.

Sue Doggett Tutor Website

Sue Doggett is an artist who creates hand-made books and bindings. She gained a first class honours degree in Visual Studies and Art History from Oxford Brookes University in 1985 and an MA in Design from Brighton University in 1998. She received the World Craft Council Award for Contemporary Craft in 1994 and was elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 1996. She has lectured and led workshops in book arts in the UK, Europe and the USA and is currently teaching on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course at Camberwell College of Arts and is a bookbinding and book arts tutor at City Lit. As an exhibiting Fellow of Designer Bookbinders, Sue works to public and private commission including the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and she is the current editor of ‘The New Bookbinder’ journal. Her work is represented in public and private collections in Europe and USA and can be seen at the Hyman Kreitman Research Library, Tate Britain; The Folger Library, Washington DC; Yale University Library, The Bodleian Library, Oxford; The Centre for Fine Print Research, Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan Museum.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.